How Formlabs is Transforming 3D Printing Through Materials Innovation
by Christian on Sep 14, 2023
Every day, thousands and thousands of parts are produced using additive manufacturing. Over the years, billions of dollars and countless hours of development have gone into the hardware that produces these parts — making them more reliable, more accurate, faster, and better able to create complex and intricate geometries.
But 3D printers are only half of the equation. Sophisticated CAD programs and powerful 3D printers allow organizations of all sizes to produce incredibly detailed, custom parts — but what are those parts made of? What are they good for? The material properties of those parts are just as important as their form, but for too long, material science for additive manufacturing has taken a backseat to hardware and software. As Drew Prindle of Digital Trends put it, “Additive manufacturing has been hamstrung by a lack of variety in material options.” You can print anything you want, he added, as long as it’s made out of simple plastic.
At Formlabs, we think differently about materials. Since our earliest days, we have placed as much emphasis on the groundbreaking material science that opens up advanced applications as we have on our easy-to-use professional printers. In fact, over time, our emphasis on materials has only grown. With well over 45 materials in our library, we are as much a materials company as we are a hardware company, and we’re proud to say it.
From elastic and flexible to extremely rigid, from flame retardant to static-dissipative, Formlabs has pushed the additive industry forward by building a comprehensive library of powerful materials. Now, with two new groundbreaking chemistries just added to that library — Alumina 4N Resin and Silicone 40A Resin — we’re continuing to unlock critical new applications all the time. Walk through our headquarters and you’ll find dozens of materials scientists in lab coats working on the next generation of advanced 3D printing materials. On days like today, when these carefully formulated and immensely useful materials make it to our customers, it’s easy to see why we are much more than a hardware company — we are truly a materials company.
It is the breadth and unique capabilities of these materials that have helped our customers (more than 100,000 of them!) drive innovation, efficiency, and performance at their organizations. We’re incredibly proud of our material science program, so we’d like to give you a peek behind the curtain.
Read on to learn more about our:
- History of materials development
- Industry-leading materials library
- Best-in-class material science team
- Vertically integrated materials manufacturing
- Plans for providing even more material flexibility and freedom to our customers